Monday, July 31, 2017

Another magical read from the K shelf...

Title:  The Mark of the Tala
Author:  Jeffe Kennedy
Genre:  Fantasy

First line:  My version of the story goes all the way back to the once upon a time with the three princesses, each more beautiful than the last. That's me, there, in the middle.

Summary:  Born the middle sister, Princess Andromeda is neither her father's favorite, nor the most beautiful. For the most part, she is invisible. And she likes it that way. But then one day, while out riding, she meets Rayfe, leader of the shape-shifting Tala, who claims she is destined to be his queen. He believes she is the key to saving his homeland of Annfwn. It seems her mother, who died when she was five, was one of the Tala, too. Not that Andi knows anything about them, or their magic. To make matters worse, her father, High King Uorsin, has declared the Tala his enemy and is determined to prevent Andi from fulfilling her destiny. In reality, he wants the fabled Annfwn for himself. Which leaves Princess Andromeda caught in the middle once more.

My thoughts:  This is a fun read. It's not too long or overly complicated. And the three sisters are an interesting study in contrasts, although this is mostly Andi's story. I ended up liking Rayfe a lot, with his dark intensity and ability to shift into the shape of a wolf or raven. He and Andromeda make a great pair. And the Tala magic is cool, though I wish there were more of it in the book. There are a couple of fairly graphic sex scenes, so be warned if that's not your thing. All in all, I'm glad I found this fantasy on the K shelf; and even though I probably won't be reading the next two books that follow it (which are about Amelia and Ursula, Andi's sisters), I enjoyed reading this one.

Happy Reading!

Similar reads:
     Uprooted by Naomi Novik
     The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
     On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Widow's House

"The reason you can't live in Riven House is because it's haunted. Why do you think I moved out? It was sucking the life force out of me. It's an unhappy place. There's a spirit there that begrudges the living their happiness. It will tear you and Jess apart. It will tear you apart."

The Hudson River Valley is where Clare Martin grew up, where she went to college, and where she met her husband, Jess. After years away, she and Jess have returned hoping that Jess will finally be able to finish his second novel here. And maybe that Clare will be inspired to start writing again, too. They move into the caretaker's cottage at Riven House, the crumbling estate of their old writing professor. But the history and haunting atmosphere of Riven House soon has Clare questioning the past, her marriage to Jess, and even her own sanity.

I loved all the Gothic elements of this Carol Goodman novel. It's part ghost story, part psychological suspense, and a very entertaining read. From the strange figure Clare keeps glimpsing in the fog, to the unexplained cries of a baby she hears late at night, Goodman really knows how to build tension. And then there's those unexpected twists at the end! I couldn't read this book fast enough. So, if you love an intense Gothic mystery, give this one a try.

Happy Reading!

Monday, July 24, 2017

A bookish update...

Indian paintbrush at Albion Basin:

(These are some of my favorite wildflowers!)

My next stack of library books:
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths
Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies
Good as Gone by Amy Gentry
The Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins
The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

Two Views of Cecret of my summer hikes:

(Yep, that white stuff is snow in July!)

Words for thought:
"Life is what you choose to emphasize."
--Elliott James, Legend Has It

Looking forward to:

Melody and I will be reading this one together the first week in August...
watch for our reviews!

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 21, 2017

A fun summer read...

Things to know:

  • The Mermaid Collector takes place in Cradle Harbor, Maine, where there's a famous lighthouse, a coveted lighthouse keeper's house, and an annual summer Mermaid Festival.
  • Part of the story takes place in the past, back in 1887 when the Mermaid legend first begins.
  • It's a story about relationships:  those between a mother and daughter (Ruby and Tess), between two brothers (Tom and Dean Grace), between a lighthouse keeper and his young wife (Linus and Lydia), between Tom Grace and the man who accidentally caused the death of his parents years ago, between Tess and her stepfather, Buzz, and between Tom and Tess, who meet for the first time at the beginning of this novel and unexpectedly fall in love.
  • With lighthouses and mermaids (though not as much about the mermaids as I was expecting or hoping for), past regrets, second chances, a few secrets, a bit of mystery, family, friendship, and romance, The Mermaid Collector is an enjoyable summer read, but without a lot of depth. Don't get me wrong... I liked this one; I just don't know that I'll remember it a few months from now.
  • It's written by Erika Marks and is just 366 pages long.

Happy Summer Reading!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

From my TBR shelf...

I bought Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand by Fred Vargas for two reasons:  I really like her Commissaire Adamsberg mysteries, and my library didn't own a copy. Plus, I found a really cheap used copy from Powells. But I don't know why I then let it languish on my shelf for years, without once picking it up to read. And I mostly picked it up now because it fulfills one of my Backlist Reader Challenge reads. But also because I really do like the way Fred Vargas writes. Especially when she's writing about Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg.

Adamsberg is the head of the Serious Crime Squad in Paris. But he's not your typical police officer. He gives off a "dreamy indifference" when he's solving a case that sometimes drives the other members of his squad crazy. At the same time, he makes these intuitive leaps and notices these unexpected connections that no one else ever sees. His unique talent means he solves a lot of cases...and it also makes for some very offbeat and imaginative mysteries. I like them a lot.

In this one, Adamsberg is chasing a murderer he once dubbed The Trident.  "The murderer who always escaped, and who, thirty years earlier, had thrown his life off course ... no other living being had caused him more pain and dread, distress and fury than this man." Now there's a new murder and Adamsberg is convinced that The Trident is back. There's just one problem. The man Adamsberg knew as The Trident died sixteen years ago.  Adamsberg even went to his funeral. It's a definite complication...and not the only complication Commissaire Adamsberg encounters in this compelling mystery. I shouldn't have waited so long to read this one.  Then again, it was definitely worth the wait.

Happy Reading!

My other favorite Commissaire Adamsberg mysteries:
     An Uncertain Place
     The Chalk Circle Man
     Seeking Whom He May Devour

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July's Bookish Art...

James Tissot -- Stillness
"...the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do."
--Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Still loving these series...

A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber

Lady Kiera Darby and Sebastian Gage have another puzzling mystery to solve in this third installment in Huber's Lady Darby series. This particular mystery involves three disturbed graves, different sets of stolen bones being held for ransom, and murder. And once again Kiera and Sebastian are partners in solving crime. I really enjoy these books; they're always interesting and entertaining. And they're set in Scotland. But what I like best is the romantic relationship between Kiera and Gage (which progresses nicely in this book). The two of them together make me smile. I can't wait to read the fourth book in this fun series.

Deathwish by Rob Thurman

This is the fourth book in Thurman's Cal Leandros series, and once again Cal and his brother, Niko, are in over their heads:  the monstrous Auphe are back, determined to kill Niko and claim Cal as one of their own, the vampire they were hired to help ends up dead, and there's a new bad guy in town. Cal's not sure they're going to survive this time. Luckily, "the Leandros brothers had turned survival into an art form like nobody else ever had."
What I like about this urban fantasy series is all the magic and supernatural suspense, but what I love about these books is the relationship between Cal and Nik. These two brothers--their friendship, loyalty and love for one another--is the heart and soul of these books. And why I keep reading them.

Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson

Wow. I just counted them all up and this is the 20th book in Thompson's Gaslight Mystery series. And the fact that I've read all twenty should tell you how much I like them. And it's not just because Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy are such appealing characters, it's also because, with every mystery that she writes, Thompson gives me another interesting glimpse into New York City's gilded past. This one's all about the newsies, who are on strike, orphan trains, and a missing society girl who went slumming in the Bowery. And I enjoyed it as much as the 19 books that came before it.

So, there you have it. Three great books from three great series, each worth reading. But, as in all series, it's best to start with the first ones:  The Anatomist's WifeNightlife, and Murder on Astor Place.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

From the K Shelf...

Author:  A. R. Kahler
Title:  The Immortal Circus

The Cirque des Immortels is not like other circuses. Not only do the performers in this circus have some strange and unusual talents, they've also all signed binding contracts that guarantee them immortality. But then their ring master is Mab, Queen of the Winter Court. Only being Mab, she has her own deep and dark reasons for every contract she signs; and she's not giving away any of her secrets. Especially when it comes to Vivienne Warfield, the newest member of the troupe. Vivienne can't quite remember what she was trying to escape from when she joined the Cirque des Immortels, nor does she seem to have any magical talent of her own. So what does Mab see in her? And more worrying, what does Mab want from her?  Oddly, Vivienne doesn't seem too concerned about it. Until one of the other circus performers ends up dead--murdered by an unknown hand. But how is that even possible? Mab's contract is supposed to protect them. So, was this an inside job? Or is there some outside enemy threatening them all?

Twisted, dark, mysterious and magical all aptly describe The Immortal Circus.  In a way, this book reminds me of Christina Henry's Alice. And despite it's darker moments, I ended up really liking it. Vivienne is one of those fiesty heroines that you find yourself rooting for; I also really liked Kingston, the magician she has a crush on.  The rest of her new circus family are all pretty unique and memorable, especially the scary ones like Mab...and Lilith. Talk about an intense roller coaster ride. This one's a fun one! I can't wait to find out what happens to Vivienne and Mab's immortal circus in the next book in this fantastic trilogy.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

10 Books I Wish my Library had...

Because I saw them on blog posts and on Goodreads and they look good. And I really want to read them.

The suspenseful ones:

The ghostly ones:

                 The (f)undead ones:
The apocalyptic "try to survive this" dsytopian future ones:

And one unique roadtrip read:

Now if only my library would pony up and purchase them first. Because
 I don't want to have to buy all these books; I just want to read them!

Happy Reading!

The wishlist of titles (if the images in this post don't appear for some reason):
Broken Dolls by James Carol
Number Seventy-Five by Ashley Fontainne
Black In White by J.C. Andrijeski
The Ghost Hunter by Neil Spring
The Spirit Chaser by Kat Mayor
The Undead World of Oz by Ryan C. Thomas
The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty
The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn
Outage by Ellissa Barr
Kumquat by Jeff Strand

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Great July Read...

The Declaration of Independence was the promise;
The Constitution was the fulfillment.

The Constitutional Convention took place in Philadelphia in 1787. Over the course of that summer, 55 men from 12 states worked to create the Constitution of the United States of America. (Rhode Island did not participate.) The rooms where they met were hot and stifling, secrecy was paramount, and they didn't always agree.
"When a broad table is to be made, and the edges of the planks do not fit, the artist takes a little from both, and makes a good joint. In like manner here both sides must part with some of their demands in order that they may join in some accommodating  proportion."                      --Benjamin Franklin
George Washington acted as President of the Convention and oversaw the process; Benjamin Franklin and James Madison were two of the delegates. Who were the rest? Plain, Honest Men. And Richard Beeman tells their story in this amazing account of the birth of our constitution. I loved this book. And I have great respect for all of these men. This is a moment in our country's history that should not be forgotten.

At the conclusion of the Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked,
"What have you wrought?" He answered, "...a Republic, if you can keep it."

Other great July reads:

Happy Reading!
And Happy 4th of July!!